Following a shooting Tuesday that left three Muslim students dead near Chapel Hill, North Carolina, more than 100 students, from Boston University and the community, gathered Wednesday night at Marsh plaza to hold a vigil in honor of the deceased.
Organized by Marsh Chapel, the Islamic Society of BU, the BU Catholic Center and the BU Interfaith Council, the vigil featured Muslim, Christian and interfaith prayers, as well as moments of silence and a ceremonial ringing of bells.
“It was a fantastic space where people can really feel comfortable and really take in a moment of silence for people that lost their lives, and also have a moment of reflection of how we can create solidarity within our community so we all feel supported and safe,” said Emily Singer, president of the Interfaith Council.
The vigil was organized after three Muslim young adults in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Deah Barakat, 23, Yusor Abu-Salha, 21, and Razan Abu-Salha, 19, were killed Tuesday night by a 46-year old-man after an alleged parking dispute.
The event brought people from different backgrounds and faiths together, said Singer, a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences.
“We really need to show solidarity across campus,” she said. “We really need to show that all faith communities and students here on campus support them and are against tragic loss in the name of, and against, religion.”
Sara Parvin-Nejad, a senior in CAS, said she decided to attend the vigil to honor those lost.
“I felt like it was necessary because it was an event that affected a big part of the community,” she said.
Parvin-Nejad said it is important that people from different faiths come together in support of the victims.
“Especially in the way that our country is right now, that so many people stand apart, [we have to show] so many of us still do stand together,” she said.
In a moment such as this one, Parvin-Nejad said, people need to focus on mourning and not jumping to conclusions about the circumstances of the deaths.
“The most important thing right now is to focus on recovering and just letting people mourn for the loss of people, and it is unfortunate that people jump to certain conclusions, and it can be kind of frustrating sometimes, but we shouldn’t jump to conclusions about this individual either and automatically say he was a terrorist or say that he was mentally ill. We should wait for the facts to settle,” she said.
Amirah Aly, a Ph.D. student at Northeastern University, is Muslim and said the event hit close to home for her, which pushed her to attend the vigil.
“These are people that, when I heard about them online, I feel like I could have been friends with them if I had been living in the same city as them,” she said. “They sound like my friends.”
Aly said the vigil was a universal gathering, not only out of solidarity, but also because Muslims are not the only subjects of hate crimes and attacks.
“You also have hate crimes against other religions, and at the end of the day, we’re all human beings despite whatever our faith is,” she said. “We all deserve the right to live without being attacked for no reason.”
Ian Quillen, a sophomore in CAS, said that no matter what faith the victims come from, members of the BU community would stand together in support.
“For me, it was something to show that we stand in solidarity. This was a really tragic event, and we aren’t alone. We have each other, and we care, and we will be there for you whether we’re Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Hindu or any religion,” he said. “We’ll stand in solidarity for peace against violence.”